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A Few Words from USPS Paris-Roubaix Favorite George Hincapie
By Jaime Nichols
Date: 4/12/2002
A Few Words from USPS Paris-Roubaix Favorite George Hincapie

Tapping away on his laptop, from somewhere on his travels as a big time professional bike racer, George Hincapie took the time out of his busy week to answer a few questions for us at the Daily Peloton. What a Champ! My esteemed colleagues at the DP and many of our readers will no doubt know what a distinct pleasure it is for me to bring you some insights into the Tour of Flanders and this weekend’s Paris Roubaix from the man himself:

George, what were you thinking in those final kilometers in the Tour of Flanders?

GH: I really thought I could win in the sprint, I was feeling good and very confident.

Tell us about those final attacks: I am in America so I wasn’t lucky enough to see the race on TV, but my associate in Europe tells me you looked a bit knackered by the end. I was reading that you were looking good on the internet ticker; which was it?

GH: The attacks were all made from Tafi primarily, and a couple from Van Petegem. I felt like they were just trying to get away from me. In the end I should have tried as well, but I did not.

I felt great all day, but I was not on my race bike, so the position was a bit different. Also, when Tafi went away I was defeated in my head, and if any of us five were not looking tired in the end, I would have had a hard time believing that. I am not making excuses. Tafi rode a super race, and in my mind he deserves the win.

Did your bike chain snafu hurt you much?

(George suffered a broken bike chain on the Eikenberg climb with 45km to go)

GH: The chain was a problem, It was skipping every third revolution, and it was not easy to ride like that, especially going up the steep climbs. I really feel like I could have helped a lot more in the break, and given Museeuw and Van Petegem a harder time to catch up.

I read that Van Petegem and Museeuw were keying off you a bit- making you work - what was the story there?

GH: We were all keying off each other. They were so ready for my attack that I just felt like I should wait for the sprint. Museeuw put in some super strong attacks on the Muur and the Bosberg. Nobody got dropped there - the group we were in was very solid.

What about the USPS team? What was the mood after Flanders, and what's the mood going into Roubaix?

GH: We were disappointed that I did not win, but the team rode a great race - we were one of the strongest out there. People are starting to say we look like a classics team as well as a TDF team. Lance rode a great Flanders, he really gets the guys going, and I really feel like he would of been with me at the end if he did not have to make a huge effort to chase down the first break of 10 before the Koppenburg.

It seems like the number one thing that would help you is having a teammate in the break. Which of your teammates do you think will be able to help you most in Roubaix?

GH: We have several strong guys this year; Tom Boonen is a huge engine and I think he can help me a lot. Matt White and Pavel (Padrnos) and Tony (Cruz) are getting better every race, and I am counting on them for Sunday.

How much help was it to have Armstrong as your back-up in Flanders? What did Lance say to you after the race?

GH: We watched the race together Tuesday night and he had some really interesting things to say. If I told you I would be giving away some of our team tactics, which I will not be doing! Regardless though, he has giving me a new insight as to what I should be thinking and doing. I am really starting to understand what makes him the champion he is.

I read that the weather should be dry this weekend, so it shouldn't be the mudbath it was last year. Do you think that helps you or favors others?

GH: Paris-Roubaix is going to be very hard, regardless of the weather. I am comfortable with either situation.

I've heard that one of your biggest strengths is being cool as a cucumber in the most chaotic race - is that so? What keeps you so cool? Do you like a chaotic race, or are you looking forward to better weather and less drama?

GH: I think keeping your cool is a very important part of riding well. Stress just burns energy, and you cannot have that in these long hard races. I just try and stay calm as possible.

You rode a super time trial in de Panne- is that something you've been working on specifically in your training? If it is, why are you working on that, and how does it fit into your plans?

GH: I was feeling good and I wanted to see where my form was at. I was riding very hard and posting the fastest time splits, it was a good ride for me. But, I have not been doing specific work for TTs, just been doing very hard training with lots of intervals and I think it has showed in the TT.

Finally, Who will you be looking out for in Roubaix? Which other riders do you feel pose the greatest threat to your bid for victory?

GH: The normal guys - Van Petegem Museeuw, Tafi, Zanini, Freddie R is looking great this year as well. Ludo - there are plenty, the list is deep, and I am sure I am leaving out a few.


…and with that, it’s off to the races! It sounds like George is ready for his rendezvous with Paris-Roubaix!

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